One pitch. One stinkin’ pitch.

No, I’m not saying Raisel Iglesias made only one bad pitch. But on the pitch before he gave up the game-winning grand slam to Kolten Wong, Iglesias induced a two-out pop-up from Wong that fell a couple feet out of the reach of Todd Frazier.

Busch Stadium remains a house of horrors. The Reds have won 18 of the last 50 games there.

Cardinals 4  Reds 1 | FanGraphs | Thursday’s Starting Pitcher?

Other than that, Ms. Lincoln, Raisel Iglesias had a fine start in St. Louis. Over six strong, he gave up 5 hits. Important: Iglesias struck out seven and walked none. He did hit three batters.

There is a LOT to like about Raisel Iglesias. You have to remember how raw he is. Iglesias didn’t pitch at all last year, as he was working his way out of Cuba. He only had 29 innings at AAA this year. Iglesias is receiving a lot of valuable major league experience. When he puts 4-5 great innings together, as he has several times this year, appreciate the floor and know all he has to do is figure out how to do that over a longer stretch of innings. The portfolio is there and that’s the key.

Joey Votto has a streak of 14 straight games getting on base twice. Club record, by Pete Rose is 15 games.

Burke Badenhop and Jumbo Diaz pitched two shutout innings in relief.

The Reds managed only 5 hits.

102 Responses

  1. Steve

    Just an absolutely horrible collection of hitters. I know Frazier has a bunch of homers but ask him to get a key “base hit” and he cannot do it. BP knows what to do but I think his body is breaking down. The rest of them have no clue how to adjust to an RBI situation. Votto is a great hitter but he rarely comes up with anyone on base.

    • Gaffer

      Clutch hitting is baloney, if you get a hit 27.5 percent of the time that will be true with men on or not or when it matters or not (whatever that means). For fun, read old newspaper clips about Mantle, Bench or even Ruth that all said these guys never got hits when they mattered too.

      • ohiojimw

        But Frazier for all he has accomplished is significantly below the league average rate for scoring runners from 3rd when batting with with less than two outs.

      • tct

        Alright, here’s the RISP numbers;

        Votto .280/.421/.493. 143 wRC
        Frazier .250/.315/.531. 124
        Bruce .194/.322/.408. 90
        Philips .257/.333/.324. 87
        Byrd .169/.256/.268. 42
        Pena .235/.273/.255. 39

        I’m not even gonna post Billy’s because children might visit this website. But Frazier is performing right around his career numbers. Votto is a little lower than his career numbers, but he’s still elite. If you want to bring up RISP, you need to look somewhere besides Votto and Frazier for criticism.

      • MrRed

        Great point being made. Now, for emphasis, put up the number of PAs each player has had with RISP. Then, I want some of you to look at those miniscule numbers and tell me why you are placing so much emphasis on them? Reds are right with the Cardinals and Pirates in terms of runs scored yet we see where they are in the standings today and where they’re headed. The Reds have 99 problems but the RISP ain’t one.

      • Big56dog

        OhioJim is referring scoring runners from 3rd- Frazier is leading the lead in opportunities and is by far the worst success % for anyone with top 20. Not sure if there are sample size to make it meaningful. But most decent hitters are over 50% and Frazier is near 30%. I think Chase Utley was something like 15-16 and Cozart was the best Red that I recall

      • vegastypo

        I think that’s true. People used to call Bench “Johnny Pop-up.” I guess after 1970 and 1972 offensively, every season for Bench was gonna be a letdown.

      • greenmtred

        I’ve read this claim before, but also noticed that there seems to frequently be a substantial difference between a hitters BA in critical v. non-critical situations. I expect that, over the course of a season or career, that would even out, as you say. But games are played in the here and now, and different people react differently to stress. That’s true of people generally, not just ballplayers.

      • MrRed

        But who says a batter is facing stress with runners in scoring position? It’s the pitcher that’s feeling the stress if anyone is. I just don’t understand the amount of stock some people are putting into insufficient sample sizes. It begins to look like cherry picking. As I’ve said, of all the Red’s problems, the 143 wRC+ and OPS+ hitting Todd Frazier isn’t one of them.

      • jdx19

        MRRED, it comes down to one basic truth: either folks understand sample size limitations, or they don’t. There’s really no changing someone from one camp to the other.

    • CRig

      Isn’t this the Dusty Baker school of thought?

    • ncboiler

      The idea of hitting with runners in scoring position being a skill isn’t even up for debate any longer. It’s not a skill and people just need to get over it. When looking at a person’s AB’s with RISP over a season falls into the pitfalls of sample size. It’s nothing more than that. Feel free to google studies about the subject.

  2. charlottencredsfan

    Great points on Raisel and several more were noted on the Game Thread. Out of the young starting pitchers, he appears to have the greatest upside. Probably doesn’t matter too much, but I’d drop Pena down, and move up Byrd and Suarez,

    • lwblogger2

      I was thinking that too about Pena. The only time they really had to pitch to Bruce with runners on, he hit the sac-fly. With Pena hitting behind him, I’m not sure why I’d give him anything to really hit with runners on base.

    • Redsfan48

      I agree that Iglesias has the most upside. If he can learn to pitch better the 3rd time through the lineup and get through 6-7 innings on a regular basis, I can see him as the next Johnny Cueto a few years down the road.

  3. Kurt Frost

    They need to go into this off-season looking for guys who can hit with RISP. You know, instead of guys who can actually hit all the time.

    • VaRedsFan

      If this were actually a choice, I’d take the RISP guy every time

      • jdx19

        If you had a theoretical team where all guys hit .000/.000/.000 with the bases empty and 1.000/1.000/4.000 with men on base, the team would score 0 runs.

    • Big56dog

      Maybe they can get some starters who win games, and some defenders who do not make errors and base runners who do not get thrown out on the basepaths too.
      I also would look for relievers who do not blow save opportunities and preferably do not give up runs in the innings they pitch or allow inherited runners to score.

      • jdx19

        I like this one. We should also pick up a few batters who do not make outs, while we’re at it.

  4. tgarretson82

    Was watching but mainly listening to the Cardinals broadcast on FSN. They are quite rude in regards to the Reds. And seem very self-centered when it comes to the Cards. I know I am biased and all, and maybe thats the way Thom, Welsh, and others are and I just dont notice. But it bothered me. I mean they said point blank the inning after Iglesias gave up the grand slam. That his stuff was not good enough and he would probably end up in middle relief. Maybe, Im making a big stink about this, but it really rubbed me the wrong way.

    • Matt WI

      No, that sounds about right. It also could have been Marty, are you sure about the feed? 😉

    • B-town Fan

      Don’t worry the Cards will eventually have there comeuppance. As for the game Lance Lynne rarely threw a pitch down the middle of the plate, on the corners most of the night. The Grand Slam was right down the middle, a walk would have been better. Iglesias was out pitched plain and simple, he will learn.

      • Victor Vollhardt

        To B-TOWN FAN: You are right a walk would have been better. Three ways to come short on the score in a game–play good enough to lose –get beat –or some combination of the first two–Right now the Reds excel at number one and number three. If the other team beats you–well it happens-even the team with the best record at the end of the year will still lose 60 to 65+ games. What makes baseball great is that combination type of game can happen to any team and any time. That leaves the play to lose and this mind set separates the good from the bad teams. Last night on a 3-2 pitch had Iglesias given him something slightly out of the strike zone–he still may have got a hit, but most likely—- he would have walked-tie score. Maybe the next man crushes a pitch(and maybe he makes out) —he beat you–you didn’t play to lose. Also earlier Iglesias did not run hard to first(he would have been safe) that would have allowed the inning to continue maybe the next batter makes out, but maybe he gets a hit and a big inning develops—again play to lose. Now did— ANYBODY— manager-front office-clubhouse leader confront Iglesias on either of these points. If not and not right away (in the tunnel-not in front for all to see) well that’s not even playing lose.

    • CTRedsFan

      The comment about Iglesias was made in direct reference to his .400+ BAA and 1.200+OPSA for the 3rd time through a lineup. They were basically saying if these numbers don’t improve perhaps he would be better suited for the bullpen.

      It is hard to argue with the logic, if he cannot get hitters out the 3rd time through the lineup he will probably not remain a starter. The announcers were not “hating” on Iglesias.

      • jdx19

        I made the same comment on the game thread and I like Iglesias.

  5. Tom Reed

    Other than the gran salami, Iglesias was not bad for 6 innings with 6 hits, 0 walks (although 3 hit batters) and 7 strikeouts. A learning experience our young pitchers should have many of in the next year or so.

    • Big56dog

      He is learning to keep his pitch count down. I think he hit almost all his batters early on in the count- why throw 4 balls when you can just hit them with one. Probably should use the same strategy with Chapman

  6. Matt WI

    Let me check something. Yeah, it’s just what I thought. Losing to the Cards like this is officially getting old. Oh well. Someday, someday.

  7. Rm

    Well, the rest of the year looks pretty bleak. Cueto was the best Reds starter since Jose Rijo, and maybe better than Rijp over a longer period. This did not have to happen, but bad management and decisions has wrecked this team.

    I posted here during Spring Training and said at that time the Reds had not addressed pitching needs. Now the fat is in the fire. It is easy to blame the players but they have to be greatly disheartened. Management has done NOTHING to help this team compete in the last 2 years. There needs to be wholesale changes in the top leadership of this franchise, including the field manager. Every game we see someone not hustling, falling asleep on the base paths, not doing correct situational hitting. It is abysmal. This is the fault of leadership. Clean Sweep NOW.

    • ohiojimw

      I agree it was poor planning and execution by management to end up with 4 of their 5 starting pitchers simultaneously in a walk away year. The only way things weren’t going to be seen as a disaster is if everything fell perfectly and the team ended up in the World Series.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I can see where some may say poor planning, but sometimes things just happen. Simon was never expected to be a starter, it was (at least as of last year) suppose to be Cingrani. Latos was traded for, but would you have had Walt not make that trade just because of his expected FA aligning with two of our guys? Cueto was on a club option, at the time of the extension who knew if the Reds would pick it up. Leake skipped the minors and started his clock early. There certainly could have been reasonable expectation that Stephenson would have been ready at some point this year, but struggled adjusting to AA last year. Then there was Chapman, who at one time may have been thought to be a key cog in this rotation.

        Certainly could have reacted better, adjusted, installed contingency plans etc…but there were a few quirks with the way that the rotation’s FA played out.

      • ohiojimw

        The contract status of Cueto, Leake, and Latos was clearly projectable years in advance. The Chapman as a starter ship sailed at least two years ago. Stephenson looks to be on the career arc they had him on all along. Cingrani as a starter has always been more of a step up project than a predictable trajectory given he was a reliever in college.

        And a serious injury such as struck down Bailey should be something there is always a contingency plan for even though predicting who it might be is beyond the range of anticipating.

        At best, the Reds front office was guilty of benign neglect in this matter; and that is not good enough where the starting rotation is involved..

    • Mutaman

      JC and Rijo are an interesting comparison. Difference was that Jose was such a big game pitcher- so great down the stretch in ’90 and series MVP I think. Hopefully JC will get an opportunity to match that this year.

    • Big56dog

      I would like to argue over the longer period part. Rijo had 7 straight solid years for the Reds. I do no think you can say Cueto had a legit solid year until 2010 or 2011. Possibly only 4 solid years if you count this one.
      When Cueto wins a WS MVP and comes close to the Reds top 20 in WAR then maybe he gets into the conversation of best starter but right now it is not debatable.

  8. JMO

    Silver lining: Reds have SP depth going into 2016

    Disco, Lorenzen, Finnegan, Iglesias, Stephenson, Lamb, Cingrani, Moscot, C Reed, Garrett. Homer back post All Star game. Upside with this bunch.

    • ohiojimw

      But I think they need to pick up at least one middle of the rotation type guy to anchor things for a season or two until Bailey is fully recovered and the kids have grown into their rolls.

      • greenmtred

        A guy like Mike Leake, perhaps? Or Mike Leake himself?

      • charlottencredsfan

        Thing is, do you have to pay that guy +$14M/year? Middle of rotation guy in a small market? I’m thinking you probably can’t or at least shouldn’t. IMO, Reds have too many up and comers and 2016 is going to be a development season anyway.

      • Redsfan48

        You can’t sign Leake to a one-year deal is the problem. We only need someone for next year to mentor the young pitchers. For example, Mark Buehrle and Aaron Harang are free agents after the season, make a run after someone like that as a leader.

    • Jeremy Conley

      There is no way that Finnegan can start next year. He has less than 100 professional innings total.

      • lwblogger2

        I don’t see Finnegan in the Reds’ rotation next year. I think he needs to be working and getting innings as a starter in AAA and then shut down at some point before racking up too many IP.

    • jdx19

      Not really sure this is “depth.” Here’s how I view all these guys in 1 statement or less!

      Disco (Likely average to possibly slightly above-average starter)
      Lorenzen (Has decent stuff, but hasn’t given any indication so far that he’ll be anything but below average)
      Finnegan (Good stuff, unproven, needs to be stretched out)
      Iglesias (Best upside of the bunch, but still raw)
      Stephenson (Inconsistent and slower development than expected, but has the stuff to stick)
      Cingrani (In my eyes, has proven he cannot be a starter. His delivery is not gimmicky enough to cover up his atrocious command)
      Moscot (Not terribly exciting and completely unproven. 5th starter upside)
      Garrett (High upside guy, not will not figure into Reds plans in 2016)
      Homer (He’s Homer).

      Really, there’s not much depth unless you want minor leaguers without much chance for success to pitch innings in the bigs.

      • Redsfan48

        Really? Lorenzen and his 3.57 ERA (before Colorado) doesn’t give you anything to show he’s going to be anything other than below average? His floor is an average starter in my opinion.

      • jdx19

        I don’t pay attention to ERA. He has walked more guys than he has struck out. That is atrocious. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  9. Jeff Morris

    Really missing Mesoraco. Pena left many many men on base tonight. Double Play was a real killer. Rather would have had Tucker B in there catching tonight. Thats why the Reds cannot beat the Cardinals, and cannot beat the elite teams consistently, they cannot get that “key” hit in a game. Also, they never are very good against Lance Lynn. He always does pretty well against them.

    • Westwood Eagle

      Pena played to work with Raisel. They worked well together, other than the one terrible pitch. Man, Raisel’s breaking balls are absolutely nasty. Love what I see from him.

      • lwblogger2

        Yes, Pena was in to catch Igelsias. I think that’s why it’s unlikely the Reds will trade him. Barnhart is getting just as many starts as Pena now but Pena might be a good guy to help Iglesias along. If we end up hanging onto him for the season for that reason, then it’s worth it. I also really like the guy. I don’t like him hitting 5th though.

  10. Vanessa Galagnara

    Say what you want about RISP doesn’t matter. I will agree it doesn’t matter on a individual level. But as a team this is consistently a problem. We can’t blame it on Hamilton anymore as he bats in the 9 hole.

    Who you going to blame for our lack of run scoring.
    This site worships Votto,Frazier, and Bruce. The blood and guts of our offense.
    Byrd is playing decent. Phillips is the leadoff production we have had since Choo. Suarez is solid with the bat at least he has a good OBP.
    Surely you can’t blame our lethargic hitting exclusively on Phillips and Hamilton now can you?

    Who is at fault?

    • tct

      Well, Billy and BP are both well below average hitters, so they are more at fault than the above average hitters; Votto, Frazier, and Bruce.

      Also, the Reds offense is not exactly lethargic. They actually have the 4th best wRC+ in the NL, 3rd in homers, 3rd in ISO, middle of the pack(7th) in OBP. Yes, they are only 9th in total runs, but they are only 9 runs behind the Cardinals who have played 2 more games than the Reds. It’s not a good offense, but it’s not horrible either. Votto and Frazier have been two of the top 10 hitters in the NL this year. It makes no sense to blame them for offensive struggles.

      The real question is why has the Reds offense underperformed? The underlying stats suggest they should be in the top 5 or 6 in runs scored. But they aren’t. The obvious culprit is sequencing; the Reds have not gotten their hits at the “right time.” But is it so hard to believe that this could be random? It’s hard to believe that Todd Frazier gets scared with men on base and can’t perform after watching his performance with millions and millions watching at the home run derby.

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        Phillips OBP is .316 I believe which isn’t bad considering all things. No he doesn’t walk so what still our best option for lead off with the players that we have.
        Sequencing? LoL. That is a mathematicians way of saying RISP. not saying that our existing players “choke” not saying Our big 3 stink but really what is the problem? Bad Luck? If that is the case we have had 2 years of bad luck and I find that hard to believe.
        I don’t believe it is chemistry either. Sometimes the numbers just don’t gel and the Reds are a sabermetrics lovers worst nightmare because it fills a ton of doubt on the value of WAR. Our WAR numbers are quite good. Yet, we stink at scoring runs.

        As I have said on this sight before the only stat the matters aside from W and L are runs and runs given up. You score more run than you allow and you win. LoL. The Reds don’t do that. Our hitting isn’t good enough and our pitching isn’t good enough so we are failing on both ends.

        We just don’t have the right pieces for a winning recipe. I don’t know what the solution is but I’m not fillled with hope that Mesoraco’s one very good season is ever repeated. Maybe the loss of Mesoraco equates to 80 less runs and maybe he loss of Bailey equates to 10 less wins. Would those 2 characters have put us in first place? Maybe 2nd or 3rd which is still not good enough.

      • tct

        I posted the RISP numbers above. Check em out. Votto and Frazier are by far the best. Bruce has a low average, but he is walking and hitting for power. Phillips has been below average and Pena, Byrd, and Hamilton have been putrid.

        As far as sequencing goes, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not sure if you’ve played baseball before, but you can’t choose when you get your hits. A good hitter is going to get around 30 hits in 100 ab, but he can’t control what situations he gets them in. It’s not just a situation where you can just bear down and really concentrate in a big situation, and poof, like magic, the hits will come. It just doesn’t work that way.

      • CP

        ” Sometimes the numbers just don’t gel and the Reds are a sabermetrics lovers worst nightmare because it fills a ton of doubt on the value of WAR. Our WAR numbers are quite good. Yet, we stink at scoring runs.”

        What are you talking about? If you are going to say the Reds WAR is “quite good”, why don’t you try adding it up and comparing it to other teams? They’ve gotten 0.9 WAR from 3 everyday players. That right there should set off some warning sirens in your brain, yet…here we are.

      • jdx19

        “Sequencing? LoL.”

        Fantastic post.

      • greenmtred

        When statistics strongly suggest an outcome different from the actual outcome, it might make sense to question whether the stats are an adequate measure.

      • CP

        Perhaps there isn’t a good sequence for this team. You have 3 guys shouldering the entire load. Once you get past Votto, Frazier, and Bruce, you’re golden.

        I don’t know if you can say that the offense has underperformed significantly. OBP seems to suggest otherwise. This team came into the season looking like it could potentially be Top 3 in HRs, but Bottom 3 in runs scored. One thing I know, when you are 9th in scoring in runs in GABP, something is wrong.

      • tct

        Well, after last night’s game they are 4th in wRC+, 3rd in ISO, 4th in slugging, 7th in OBP, 1st in SB. But they are 9th in runs. So they have scored fewer runs than you would expect based on their other numbers.

      • Steve Mancuso

        One thing it proves is the tiny benefit of stolen bases.

        I wouldn’t read too much into the discrepancy because the gaps are small. Four teams are clumped at 6-9 in runs scored. It’s even closer when you factor in the Reds have played fewer games than the other three. And teams 4-7 are clumped in wRC+ with the Reds at the top of that group. So maybe the Reds are about 6th in both.

        Speculation: The concentration of wRC+ in the Reds lineup in a few players makes sustaining big innings difficult.

      • CP

        TC you expect a team playing in GABP to be high in all the non-park adjusted power stats.

        The wRC+ is interesting, but the Reds have outliers at both extremes making the average wRC+ difficult to interpret. I think the median wRC+ would likely be more appropriate, but it also makes comparing the Reds to other teams more difficult.

      • jdx19

        Steve, your speculation is rooted in fact.

        Markov Chains can be used to predict outcomes of sequenced events. As it turns out, having 9 guys with a 100 wRC+ is better than having 3 guys at 150 wRC+ and 6 guys at 75 wRC+.

        I can’t find the relevant study right now, however.

      • Steve Mancuso

        I had to learn about Markov chains back when I was in grad school, long since forgotten.

    • BigRedMike

      Runs Scored

      Brewers 398
      Cardinals 397
      Pirates 395
      Reds 385
      Cubs 378

      Not sure scoring runs is the Reds problem

    • WVRedlegs

      “Phillips is the leadoff production we have had since Choo.”
      Thank you for the good laugh this morning. I needed it. Coffee thru the nose. Phillips’ .316 OBP isn’t something to proudly run up the flagpole. Choo had a career .380 OBP when he came to the Reds, and with the Reds had a .423 OBP. Over .100 points higher. The Reds have not had a leadoff hitter since Choo. Mentioning Phillips in the same sentence as leadoff production without the words “lack of” in it, is comical.
      We needed that this morning, after the Reds showing last night, and learning that the vaunted offense of Toronto now adds Troy Tulowitzki to their arsenal.

  11. liptonian

    Man lots of negativity here. What do you expect people, this is a bad team. So rather than dwell on it why not focus on the positives. This team is going to lose a lot of games for the rest of the year, but like Steve pointed out Iglesias is a youngster and shows flashes of brilliance, Votto is a stud, we are lucky to watch him play everyday, Bruce is a good hitter, young pitchers are learning at the MLB level on a team where it doesn’t matter that they are having growing pains. No amount of kvetching is going to change the fact that this year the Redlegs are a bad team this year. But, we do get to watch the development of some young players that might be the cornerstone of this team for years to come.

    Anyways glass half full during tough times, that’s all I’m saying.

    • Wallyum

      Yeah, but I don’t care for the smell of what it’s filled with.

    • Redgoggles

      I totally agree with this. And, much better than watching the Gregg/Marquis’ of the world!

  12. Tom Gray

    STL has best W-L record in MLB.

    Reds have best W-L record in Cincinnati.

    No surprise but really just one bad pitch at wrong time cost him the game.

  13. Tom Gray

    Rockies traded Troy Tulowitski and LaTroy Hawkins to Blue Jays (tonight) for Jose Reyes and MiLB prospects.

    Tru dat.

    • lwblogger2

      That’s how you trade a big contract, you take one back. The Rockies really needed Tulo off the books and take some money back in getting Reyes. Tulo is owed at least $98-million over the next 5 years. Reyes is owed at least $48-million over the next 3 years. In the short term, Reyes actually cost the Rockies a little more but they get rid of the last 2 years of that Tulo contract saving at least $50-million. They also get back someone who can actually play at SS, though not particularly well.

      As for Toronto, they move some payroll to take on more payroll. They get a very good SS with pop in his bat. They get a guy who’s been around forever but still has something to give for their bullpen. What remains to be seen is rather Tulo can stay healthy and also rather he’ll hit in Toronto like he did in Colorado.

      • lwblogger2

        I’ll also note that this deal reinforces the fact that even Votto’s contract is probably moveable if the Reds are really, really motivated to do so. I’m not saying they should, it’s just that a lot of people have said he’s untradable because of the contract. The Reds would probably have to take on some of his salary, give up prospects, and/or take on a contract or two in return but it wouldn’t be impossible.

        Also, unless the Jays go deep into the post season the next 2-3 years or if Tulo can’t stay on the field, this could end up being a stinker of a deal for the Jays.

      • lwblogger2

        And I’m sure that there are a couple GMs who’d see it the same way.

    • Vanessa Galagnara

      One can only hope that a #1 draft pick is out there with the Reds name on it. Tank boys tank!

  14. sezwhom

    Pena has 257 AB’s so far and has hit ZERO homeruns with 11 RBI and Price had him batting 5th! Really! Bases juiced with no outs and the Reds manage one run. Bases loaded with two outs and two strikes and the Cards get a grand slam. Winners vs. losers.

    • jdx19

      The decision to bat Pena 5th is a microcosm of the season, in my opinion. Sure, lineups don’t matter THAT much, but it is such low hanging fruit. Putting out a close to optimal lineup should be child’s play, but Price can’t do it.

  15. UNC Reds Fan

    Iglesias, though a ray of hope, should also be a bleak reminder of what Chapman could, nay should, be if he was handled correctly…I know the reds are lamenting trading Cueto, but no question that trade would’ve been easy, maybe even a no brainer, if Chapman was in the rotation…of course Chapman in the rotation may have made the reds competitive…nonetheless thanks once again Dusty for mediocrity

    • lwblogger2

      I think it’s time we stop blaming Dusty for everything. He’s gone. I’m not defending him but honestly, the Reds still could have made Chapman a starter if they wanted to. They also could have made him a starter this year or last if they wanted to. Dusty is gone and it’s time to move on.

  16. Steve Mancuso

    On the issue of hitting with runners in scoring position: It’s not that “it doesn’t matter” from the standpoint of scoring runs or telling a history of what happened. Obviously, you score more runs when you hit more with RISP.

    It’s that hitting with RISP isn’t a unique skill. It’s not something a player can “work on” or “get better at.” Hits come when they do. Research has shown this time after time. Over time, a hitter’s RISP converges to his overall hitting numbers.

    Hitters do have certain skills for hitting – hit with power, hit for average – etc. Those *are* skills that players can work on or get better at. Some hitters have better reflexes, are stronger, have quicker wrists etc. That’s why Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton are different hitters. But those are traits they have no matter how many runners are on base.

    Saying a team isn’t good at hitting with RISP or – like Marty Brennaman did last night – or that the Reds need to bring in players who can hit with RISP, shows a fundamental lack of understanding.

    RISP varies randomly from overall hitting, even over long periods of time (remember, the sample size isn’t gigantic).

    Fans have a hard time grasping random variance. Here’s an example of it. Here are are the Reds current stats for hitting on certain days of the week:

    Monday – .263
    Tuesday – .272
    Wednesday – .259
    Thursday – .231
    Friday – .231
    Saturday – .263
    Sunday – .241

    This late in the season, there are still 40 points of difference between the best days and worst days. That’s significant random variation between days of the week.

    Do you look at that and say “the Reds need to get better at hitting on Thursday and Friday” or “the Reds need to look for players who can hit better on Thursday and Friday” – no, of course not.

    That’s because we intuitively understand it’s just random. Hitting on Tuesday is not a different skill than hitting on Friday. Well, once you grasp that hitting with RISP isn’t a unique skill set either, then you realize it is just as meaningless to focus on it.

    It’s a valid, backward looking observation to say “the Reds haven’t hit on Thursday” – that’s a true statement. It’s also true to say “hitting on Thursday is important.”

    But that’s not the same thing as placing meaningful blame or making prescriptions.

    Beyond that, RISP is terrible at measuring clutch or the ability to drive in runs – solo home runs, driving in runners from first, advancing runners with walks, sacrifice flies or ground balls are all missed. Think of this: When Jay Bruce hits a two run homer with a runner on first to take the lead in a game, that *doesn’t count* as a hit with RISP.

    If the Reds want to improve their hitting with RISP, the solution is obvious and simple.

    They need to find better hitters.

    • greenmtred

      I find your argument persuasive, Steve, in spite of my devil’s-advocacy above. But, clearly, it would be a different season if they DID hit better on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

    • doublenohitter

      The only “variance” that I see and I have even heard Todd Frazier say it is that sometimes guys put undo pressure on themselves to get that “clutch” hit when they really don’t need to. If you approach every at-bat the same way, you should get the same results, whether or not there are runners on or the bases are empty.

      Stress can cause one to not perform as you would in a non-stressful situation.

      I’m in agreement that over a long period of time, the numbers will balance out. But I do think that some players will “tighten up” when an important at-bat occurs.

      I also think that the Reds are terrible at the fundamentals. Just looking at average with RISP isn’t enough. How does a player adjust to any situation. A runner at 2nd and no out. Does a player make a concerted effort to do whatever it takes to get the runner to third. With a runner at third and less than 2 outs, does a hitter choke up or shorten his swing to do whatever it takes to get that runner home?
      A hitter is not always going to be successful but you can swing the odds in your favor by making small adjustments.

      As far as the Cardinals are concerned, it all comes down to pitching. The Cardinals pitching has been outstanding…that is why they are winning the division.

      • Nick Carrington

        The numbers support your assertion that the Cardinals pitching is what has made them so good. The Cardinals have the most pitching WAR is all of baseball. Team ERA of 2.63, also best in the majors. Reds have team ERA of 4.19 and the 23rd best pitching WAR in baseball.

        The Reds only have 0.6 less position player WAR than the Cardinals. The Reds position players have 13.6 WAR, 9.9 of that WAR comes from Frazier, Bruce, and Votto. The Reds have scored 12 less runs than the Cardinals over the course of the season.

        Seems the Reds offense has been good enough to compete. The Reds pitching has not.

    • VaRedsFan

      Steve, are you saying that a player reacts the EXACT same way with nobody on base in the top of the 1st as they do when the bases are loaded in the 8th inning?
      There is a mental side to every game that can’t be explained away with numbers.

      • Steve Mancuso

        I’m not saying it. Decades of research is saying it.

        If there is a mental side of the game that can’t be explained in numbers, why don’t we see hitters sustain RISP above their overall numbers more than just what you would expect from a normal distribution?

        I’m sure hitters *and pitchers* bear down in certain situations more than others. But the data shows it doesn’t have a systematic effect.

    • Redgoggles

      It is a compelling argument and I’m on the fence. But, then I see BP consistently change his approach with 2 strikes and try to go the other way and Frazier do the crazy swings to bloop one into the opposite field and I’m not sure that the players don’t change their approach based on game situations. As far as RISP not being a repeatable skill, it sure feels like it is for the Cardinals when playing the Reds!

    • tct

      Some of the best stuff you’ve written Steve. Why’d you waste it in the comment section? Just kidding, but it would make an awesome column.

      • Steve Mancuso

        I’ve got more to say on the subject, so maybe I’ll combine the two when I get a chance. Busy week. 🙂

    • brmreturns

      Exactly – precisely why the 2013 Cards hit .330 RISP as a team. 2014 Cards hit .254……. largely same players, same high leverage situation. Yet, some would have you believe that every player was ‘not clutch’. What changed? Nothing, other than luck.

    • Big56dog

      Good use of the daily stats as we can see BA has little correlation to success. Everyone knows the Reds play much worse on Sundays than Thursday.

  17. Nick Carrington

    Joey Votto has now overtaken Todd Frazier in fWAR as Frazier continues to come back to earth. Votto, Frazier, and Bruce all with at least 2 fWAR and 123 wRC+.

    Votto: 4.0 WAR 161 wRC+

    Frazier 3.9 WAR 143 wRC+

    Bruce 2.0 WAR 123 wRC+

    Unfortunately as Bruce and Votto have been hitting, Frazier has hit .225/.261/.388. With the young pitching staff, the Reds can’t afford any of these three to be struggling.

      • lwblogger2

        Yeah, Frazier is scuffling. All players do for stretches. Let’s hope he comes out of it soon.

      • lrgmnky

        Maybe Votto stole Frazier’s wallet.

      • WVRedlegs

        Frazier hit the wall in July last year too. He rebounded well in August. He should be OK. He’ll come alive again vs. Pittsburgh this weekend.

  18. Jeremy Conley

    Two thoughts: As much as we’ve written about it here at RLN, I don’t think a lot of fans (or Marty) have really adjusted in their minds to the new, lower-scoring run environment in MLB. The Reds offense isn’t very good, but they’ve lost their starting cater and shortstop, their left fielder is 100 years old, and their centerfielder isn’t hitting at all. What would you expect? The Reds are still scoring 3.97 runs per game. The Brewers are at 3.98, the Cardinals at 4.01, and the Pirates at 4.03.

    Which brings me to my second thought: I don’t understand a lot of fans’ constant focus on the offense. This team’s problem from day one was pitching. We had a terrible bullpen last year and we added Badenhop to fix it. Not enough. We had good starters last year, and we traded two of them away. That’s bad. Then we lost Bailey. It never made sense for one second to consider this a year we were going to contend when we traded 40% of our rotation for prospects in the offseason, but after Bailey went down we had two legitimate starters in our rotation.

    And what do you know, the Reds give up 4.53 runs per game, which means that the Reds opponents are hitting like the Rockies do (3rd best offense in the game, Coors Field etc). It has become popular to think that in the era of lower scoring, offense is king, and there’s a certain logic to that. But if everyone else is pitching great, and you aren’t, the lower run environment doesn’t magically make you better. There are more good pitchers out there than there have been in a long time, it just happens that the Reds don’t have many of them.

    • WVRedlegs

      And to think, Jocketty for years has been stockpiling right handed pitchers and now when you need a couple of them, shazam, they aren’t very good.
      Walt Jocketty and his Not Ready for Prime Time Players. If it weren’t so so sad, it would be a funny comedy sketch.

    • lwblogger2

      Makes sense. I was cautiously optimistic that with decent health, the Reds would have enough starting pitching. Cueto, Bailey, Leake, Cingrani, DeSclafani was my projected rotation. I thought the bullpen would be a problem spot but thought Parra and Hoover would be better than last year. They still had Chapman. I actually, a bit ashamed to admit it now, thought that Badenhop would be a nice addition. Still, I thought it left them a couple arms short in the pen. LaCure never got his velocity back and I wasn’t real thrilled with any other options there. Still, that bullpen may have been adequate, or so I thought. I also thought that if the Reds could stay in, they might “buy” on a SP and RP at the deadline. I thought the offense would be pretty good, especially if Votto and Bruce could be themselves again.

      It sadly didn’t turn out that way but there was some hope, at least for me.

  19. jamesgarrett

    I like offense but pitching and defense win games.There is only so much you can say about a young starter learning to pitch at the big league level. Much easier to harp on our guys when all they need to do is hit a fly ball to score a run and they strike out or they swing at the first pitch after the guy before them walked.Another thing I always forget is that come contract time its all about individual stats.We talk about team first but I am not sure there are any measurable that identify what a team first guy is.